Best Transcription Hardware and Software

What is a Transcriptionist?

If you perform transcription work from home--whether medical, legal, or other types-- then you know the importance of having the best transcription hardware and software for your job. While the perception among many is that a transcriptionist is simply a fast typist, the profession is much, much more.

All transcriptionists must be exceptionally literate, possessing the ability to accurately transcribe what is heard. Many speakers will have accents and will speak in colloquialisms, making a well-rounded education in the art of language necessary. Medical transcriptionists will be required to have specific knowledge of medical terminology, while legal and court transcriptionists will need to have specific legal knowledge and training.

Of course, strong typing skills are essential for all transcriptionists. Most all transcription work will come with extremely tight deadlines-many times less than a day total turnaround time. Because of these deadlines, not only do you have to be fast, you must also be very accurate and not cave under deadline stress.

Finally, a great transcriptionist is also a wonderful researcher. No matter how well-educated a transcriptionist is in any given field, chances are good that he or she will often be required to look up terms or phrases in order to put remarks into the proper context. Besides the technical skill and knowledge required work as a transcriptionist, the right computer hardware and software is also essential.

Foot Pedal Controls

In older times, a transcriptionist used a transcribing machine which held an actual cassette or micro-cassette and a food pedal to control the speed as well as stop and start the cassette. It was more difficult for transcriptionists to work at home because the tapes had to be shuttled back and forth. Digital transcription has now almost completely taken the place of cassette tapes, substantially widening the field for work-at-home transcriptionists. Today, all transcription work requires foot pedal controls which attach to your computer, usually via your USB port.

The files are transferred to your computer via an ftp upload or some sort of digital file transfer. Then you listen to the files using the digital foot pedal controls, stopping and starting when necessary. Most companies you work for will tell you which kind of foot pedal you will need, although the most popular type is the Infinity USB which works with most software. You can find a foot pedal on the Internet, through Best Buy, Amazon, Office Max or even eBay, for anywhere from $60-$150.

You will also need a good set of noise-cancelling headphones-not the ear buds you wear with your Mp3 player while exercising, but professional headphones. You will appreciate this distinction after wearing them for hours on end!

Software for Transcription

While the company you work for may either provide the necessary software, or have the specific software you must purchase, many use Express Scribe, which is a free download you can use to play the audio files you are transcribing. FTR Player and The Record Player, are also free programs, but you will have to coordinate any software with the specific companies you work with.

You will also need a good word-processing program such as Microsoft Word or Open Office which allows you to type transcriptions into documents which can be saved and returned to clients. You will also require an up-to-date desktop or laptop with plenty of speed and RAM in order to prepare transcription documents. Most new computers will have several USB ports available for the foot pedal to connect to, and some headphones now come with a USB connection as well.

Finally, a solid, supportive office chair is an absolutely essential component of the transcriptionist's arsenal. You will be sitting for long hours, and it's crucial to protect your back.